HG Alert: National Building Energy Framework Discussion Paper Released: Transforming Australia’s Building Stock - 28 Apr 2010

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has released a public discussion paper for the National Building Energy Standard-Setting, Assessment and Rating Framework. Future policies and initiatives will stem from this Framework, making it an important community document that warrants consideration and contribution by stakeholders. At the very least, reading the discussion paper will give stakeholders an idea as to where the Federal Government is heading with sustainable building policy.

As the Framework is in the consultation process, the Department is calling for comments on any matter in the discussion paper or on the Framework generally. Submissions close at 5.00pm on Friday 7 May 2010.

What is the National Building Energy Standard-Setting, Assessment and Rating Framework?

The Framework forms part of the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency, formulated by the Council of Australian Governments in July 2009. The Council of Australian Governments has identified this Framework as one of the two major schemes that will help Australia meet its climate change goals - the other being the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

The Framework will be the foundation policy document that sets out a unified approach to energy efficiency assessments, ratings and standards for buildings, to improve the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings and to correct market failures. Eventually, the Framework may be extended to include buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions and water performance.

The Framework is intended to:

  • set building energy efficiency standards to improve energy efficiency in new residential and commercial buildings; and
  • address the assessment methods and rating of buildings to improve market failures - for example, knowledge of energy efficiency at point of sale or lease.

Setting building energy efficiency standards

The stated goals of the Framework in setting building energy efficiency standards are as follows:

  • Set increasingly stringent minimum performance standards over time for new buildings and major renovations, with standards to be reviewed and increased periodically - for example, every three years.
  • Use the Building Code of Australia to implement the standards required of new building work. It is intended that a nationally consistent performance based assessment system will be in place by the end of 2011.
  • Allow innovation in meeting defined performance standards. By allowing innovation, new technologies will be developed in expectation that standards will become more stringent over time.
  • Facilitate effective monitoring and compliance.

Assessing and rating buildings

The stated goals of the Framework for assessing and rating buildings include to:

  • work towards a measurement based rating tool for existing residential and commercial buildings;
  • work towards a predictive/modelling based rating tool for new residential and commercial buildings;
  • communicate energy efficiency improvements through star ratings;
  • include flexibility to account for climatic variation over time; and
  • accommodate mandatory disclosure of energy performance at time of sale and lease.

The public discussion paper can be downloaded from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s website.

Consultation forums have been held in all capital cities throughout April. A representative of HopgoodGanim Lawyers attended the Brisbane Consultation Forum on 23 April 2010. The speakers at the Forum emphasised that the framework is still very much in a preliminary stage, and that it raises more questions than it provides answers.

The overview of the framework provided a broad-brush indication of options and considerations, and although the discussion was lively, the response from government representatives primarily consisted of an acknowledgement that the issues raised were being or would be taken into account.

While submissions on the framework close on Friday 7 May 2010, it was indicated that, given the short timeframe, late submissions may be considered if the submitting party contacts the Department in advance and makes arrangements.

HopgoodGanim Lawyers is offering to review submissions, free of charge, before you lodge them with the Department. If you would like to take advantage of this service, please forward your submissions to one of our Climate Change team members.